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Kevin Cronin introduces REO Speedwagon fans to new keyboardist

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

REO Speedwagon keyboardist Neal Doughty retired last month after 55 years with the band, and now the group is introducing fans to his replacement, Derek Hillard.

“Hi friends, those of you who have caught any of our 2023 shows may have noticed a new face behind the keyboards,” frontman Kevin Cronin writes on Instagram, introducing Hillard. “Coincidentally Neal and Derek met several years ago when Derek was playing in Iron Butterfly. After that show, Neal approached the young keyboardist and complimented his playing; Derek has never forgotten that encounter.”

Cronin shares that Hillard has previously toured with Whitesnake, Foreigner and most recently Rick Springfield, who he worked with for 15 years. Cronin noted that Rick gave him a glowing recommendation. 

“Derek is a bit younger than the rest of us, (who isn’t :), grew up listening to REO Speedwagon, and is a long-time fan of Neal’s keyboard work,” Cronin shares. “He is a perfect fit, and fits right in with our band vibe.”

Finally he writes, “While Neal is certainly irreplaceable, Derek is an extremely gifted keyboardist and a fine singer, who brings renewed enthusiasm to our band. We will carry on, continue to raise the bar musically, and have fun in the process.”

REO Speedwagon is currently on tour and hit Cherokee, North Carolina, on Friday.

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